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Postby Damien » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:30 am

Sabin wrote:
but that may just because here I was sitting in the 3rd row of an IMAX theatre.

Yeesh. I saw it in 3D slightly off center and I felt ill. Why on earth didn't you do something at the mall for a few hours and see it in the center later? That sounds horrible.

This is Manhattan, we don't have malls. :D ANd we bought the tickets in advance a few days ago. My beloved didn't take me seriously when I said we should get there at least 45 minutes before it starts . . . .
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Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:16 am

but that may just because here I was sitting in the 3rd row of an IMAX theatre.

Yeesh. I saw it in 3D slightly off center and I felt ill. Why on earth didn't you do something at the mall for a few hours and see it in the center later? That sounds horrible.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Damien » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:02 am

The first half bored me to tears. But things picked up a lot when the battle sequences began. Admirable (if outdated) anti-Bush politics, but of course presented in the most simplistic terms by Cameron. And no other writer in Hollywood today has such a tin ear for dialogue. The visuals are cool, but hardly landmark or earth-shattering -- The Lord of The Rings trilogy, now THOSE were awesome visuals. 3-D was better employed in Journey To The Center Of The Earth, but that may just because here I was sitting in the 3rd row of an IMAX theatre. Not nearly as dopey as Titanic.

5/10
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Postby dws1982 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:37 pm

This is a movie that deserves a second viewing from me, but I don't really have much desire to sit through it again. There were some interesting things, but overall I don't think I liked it very much--the story wasn't very interesting; the pacing was off (Titanic felt like 90 minutes in comparison); several good actors are not very well used; that score was typical James Horner awfulness; Cameron lays his big themes on awfully thick. But the real problem for me was the 3-D format. This is the first 3-D film I've seen in a theatre--I missed the 3-D revival of the 80's, and since it has regained popularity in the past few years, I haven't seen anything in 3-D. I'm not exactly visually impaired, but I wear glasses with a strong prescription, and my left eye is not correctable to 20-20, even with glasses. I was mostly okay for the first two hours or so, and there were some very impressive images, but by the time the big action sequences start, with so many 3-D images zipping by really fast, I started to get seasick, see double and so on. My eyes just couldn't work together to process the information, and I couldn't close my eyes to refocus. So ultimately, the main thing I got out of this was a headache.



Edited By dws1982 on 1262137145

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Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:50 pm

Um...
...
...
...
...$500 million dollars for a boring cartoon? You've got to be fucking kidding me.
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Postby jack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:43 pm

MovieWes wrote:
jack wrote:I find the below email from an "Academy member" a bit hard to believe. This Academy member seems to be brimming with knowledge about this years' race, even noting that not since Braveheart has an Oscar winning Best Picture failed to be nominated at SAG - a fact I read a few days ago maybe here, maybe somewhere else, maybe both. However, the Academy member when discussing Kathryn Bigelow seems to have forgotton that Sophia Coppola was nominated for Best Director alone with the other two.

Me thinks an Avatar fan wrote the email....

Umm... that was an article. The full text of the email was this: "Avatar wins. The environmental theme, 'borrowed from Dances With Wolves,' worked completely with a capacity AMPAS audience. Long applause for everything, except [James] Horner score, but who knows? Eight nominations, nine?"

I realised that after Magilla's post. I guess I kinda hoped no one would've noticed.

I skimmed the post, not reading the whole thing.

Don't get me wrong, I want Avatar to do well, I just want The Hurt Locker to do better. Though, no one would have gotten that from my pointless post below.




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Postby MovieWes » Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:15 pm

jack wrote:I find the below email from an "Academy member" a bit hard to believe. This Academy member seems to be brimming with knowledge about this years' race, even noting that not since Braveheart has an Oscar winning Best Picture failed to be nominated at SAG - a fact I read a few days ago maybe here, maybe somewhere else, maybe both. However, the Academy member when discussing Kathryn Bigelow seems to have forgotton that Sophia Coppola was nominated for Best Director alone with the other two.

Me thinks an Avatar fan wrote the email....

Umm... that was an article. The full text of the email was this: "Avatar wins. The environmental theme, 'borrowed from Dances With Wolves,' worked completely with a capacity AMPAS audience. Long applause for everything, except [James] Horner score, but who knows? Eight nominations, nine?"
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:01 pm

Pete Hammond is an asshole and a quote whore of the worst kind:

"An often riotously funny slaptstick farce that ought to appeal to moviegoers of all ages." - Old Dogs

"Bullock may have found her Erin Brockovich in Touhy, commanding the screen with grit and determination in an Oscar-worthy role if there ever was one." - The Blind Side

"Critics may balk but Amelia is old fashioned in the best way and soars as a big, beautiful and sweeping motion picture biography about a true American legend." - Amelia

While Avatar may indeed emerge victorious at the Oscars, it's too soon to call it the front-runner. AMPAS members packed the theatre because there's no way they could watch this at home.

Nine's most devastating reviews were not from music haters, but music lovers who were deeply disappointed in the results.

Next to Hammond, Tom O'Neil seems like a genius. Maybe that's why he keeps him around.




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Postby jack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:49 pm

I find the below email from an "Academy member" a bit hard to believe. This Academy member seems to be brimming with knowledge about this years' race, even noting that not since Braveheart has an Oscar winning Best Picture failed to be nominated at SAG - a fact I read a few days ago maybe here, maybe somewhere else, maybe both. However, the Academy member when discussing Kathryn Bigelow seems to have forgotton that Sophia Coppola was nominated for Best Director alone with the other two.

Me thinks an Avatar fan wrote the email....

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Postby Zahveed » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:31 pm

Is 'Avatar' the new best picture front-runner?
December 21, 2009 | 12:05 pm

This e-mail after Sunday night's official AMPAS unveiling of "Avatar" complete with 3-D glasses (from an academy voter who often supplies us and other bloggers with instant reactions and analysis of member screenings) says it all:

"Avatar wins. The environmental theme, 'borrowed from Dances With Wolves,' worked completely with a capacity AMPAS audience. Long applause for everything, except [James] Horner score, but who knows? Eight nominations, nine?"

Since attendance at most of these screenings has been averaging about 350 to 400 people, with the glaring exception being the capacity Sunday afternoon turnout on Nov. 1 for Michael Jackson's "This Is It" documentary, Oscar's full house for "Avatar" indicates intense industry interest and the apparent thumbs-way-up reaction should alert 20th Century Fox and James Cameron that perhaps they should start planning for a big night at the Kodak on March 7.

With the successful academy screening, a record $77-million opening weekend gross even with the severe snowstorms in the East, an incredible $235-million-plus overall worldwide gross plus an A rating from Cinemascore rating and an A+ from males younger than 25, "Avatar" had a great capper to a week that also included major Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award nominations.

But can it be called a front-runner, especially in light of other major contenders, like "Up in the Air," "The Hurt Locker" and "Inglourious Basterds," doing extremely well as award season rolls out? Let's look at the landscape as it now stands as we begin the Christmas break, when presumably many academy members will be getting their first big chance to catch up on their DVD screeners and will have their own ballots in hand within a week.

"Up in the Air" started out gangbusters by taking the National Board of Review best picture prize, six Golden Globe and eight Critics Choice nods and also three SAG nominations, but it curiously was left out of the outstanding cast (a.k.a. ensemble) list, which is a stat that on the surface doesn't bode well, since no film since "Braveheart" in the category's first year has gone on to actually win best picture without at least a SAG nomination for its cast. It may well be that SAG, which nominated George Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga, is looking at the film for its individual achievements rather than as an ensemble effort. We shouldn't read too much into the omission at this point. If this is a requirement to win the Oscar, then "Invictus" and "Avatar" (with no SAG recognition) are dead too. Don't think so.

"The Hurt Locker," with its countless critics group wins, from L.A. to New York and many points in-between (There really are too many of these groups, with more mysteriously cropping up every year. Are they being invented by studio consultants to make their award counts look good?) is clearly the anointed film this year by the critical community. And its across-the-board success with Globe, Choice and SAG nominations confirms that. It would appear Cameron's ex-wife, director Kathryn Bigelow, is indeed the front-runner in her category particularly, and as so many like to point out, no woman has ever won. She's got the best shot, since she made a movie that looked like it was directed by a man, and that could be enough for a chauvinistic academy that has nominated only two women previously (Lina Wertmuller and Jane Campion). It will also be an irresistable photo op if Cameron pulls off best picture but loses director to his ex.

"Inglourious Basterds" is the wild card. Quentin Tarantino's film seems to remain a favorite within the academy and has won four key Globe nominations, a record 10 from the Critics Choice Movie Awards and, even more significant, three SAG nods, including for best cast. Christoph Waltz has won nearly every supporting actor prize in sight to date and looks unbeatable, but could the film surprise too, as my Envelope colleague Tom O'Neil keeps insisting?

As for Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" and Rob Marshall's "Nine," nominations on the expanded best picture list seem likely, although the latter got stung by some particularly vicious reviews (musical haters?). But front-runners? No.

That brings us back to the question, 'Is Avatar the new front-runner for best picture?' As of now, I appear to be very lonely on Buzzmeter (and Gurus of Gold), listing it with a No. 1 ranking. I believe that will change soon, just as it did when my fellow bloggers finally saw the light on Sandra Bullock's inevitable best actress nomination. True, it doesn't have a single SAG nomination, and the performance-capture technique the film employs is still controversial among some thesps, so what the all-important and very large actors branch has to say will be key. And even though no 3-D movie has ever won (or even been nominated), and fantasy films are few and far between unless they start with the words "Lord of the Rings," "Avatar" seems strongly positioned to win Oscar's heart with its strong environmental and social messages, its not-so-thinly-veiled Bush bashing and, most important, its technological breakthroughs that present endless new possibilities for the movie industry. Make no mistake about it. It's the industry that is voting in this contest. I can see the academy that showered a record-tying 14 nominations and 11 Oscars on Cameron's last film, "Titanic," 12 years ago ready to do it all over again.

"Avatar" is suddenly the one to beat.

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Postby Sabin » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:23 am

It does for 3D what The Jazz Singer did for sound. It provides a grossly insensitive relic waiting to happen. If we give Cameron credit where credit's due and say that this was a film waiting to happen ranging from twelve years ago to whenever he was a teenager, it's still safe to say that evoking ethnic genocide to ballast a thrill ride would still be considered insensitive. Blueface is still blackface. Cameron's big epic covers so much ground that what was visibly cut out might have developed the Na'vi enough so that we might have felt kinship with their plight, let along for Jake Sulley's struggle of duality. But in Avatar, no trace of character pull exists. It's all been edited out for the spectacle. For roughly the first half of the film, I felt that rare sensation of being a kid at the movies. Some dumb-ass Cameron dialogue aside, it was a good time. Then SHIT. GOT. REAL! and the Na'vi way of life was threatened and Cameron sought to make us feel their pain to no avail. These are video game ciphers, exemplary no doubt, but still shallow creations that I can only marvel from afar because Cameron lets us near their way of life through montage.

This was quite a year for populist genocidal mythology. Inglourious Basterds, District 9, and now Avatar. I'm inclined to give Avatar the short end of the stick because Basterds is less problematic and honest with what it's doing, whereas District 9 actually gains some emotional pull. Avatar is dishonest and gross in evocation of genocide. It actually has more in common with Inglourious Basterds in how it essentially recreates alternate history, but imagine a scene from Basterds where they free a concentration camp and you get my revulsion. Cameron is not a thinker and he undercuts a lot of his successes with myopic pleas for tolerance. Yet when he wins his Oscars this coming year, he will be far more Lucas-tekkie than Gore-hippie, speaking of the 3D revolution and not conservation of natural resources. I love the world that Cameron presents to us. I have no problem buying it, and the tactile pleasures make it stronger than anything Lucas has done. However, what he fills the world with seems edited for content.

I'm inclined to evoke the spirit of The Jazz Singer yet again. Like the snareshot at the beginning of Highway 61 Revisited, watching Avatar in 3D is one of those amazing experiences that you can't really shortchange entirely like you should. It looks amazing. He uses technology to do things with depth of field I've never seen before. I was always amazed. As a writer, I was only annoyed after halfway through the movie and Lord knows there's enough shitty dialogue beforehand to bring me out. That's some kind of accomplishment.
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Postby The Original BJ » Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:57 pm

If this movie gets Best Picture/Director Oscar nominations, I never want to hear ever again -- or at least for the next ten years -- about the Academy ignoring popular films. Avatar struck me as a purely commercial enterprise; not down there with Transformers, but, in my opinion, completely unacceptable as an awards candidate. I didn't think The Dark Knight was robbed last year, but that was positively Shakespearean compared to this.

To give credit where it's due, the visuals are pretty amazing. I saw it not only in 3D, but also on IMAX, and I'm certainly glad I saw it in this format. The effects work -- from the protagonists, who never feel like less than flesh and blood, to the spaceships, to the evocatively-realized world of Pandora -- is stunning. And there's a beauty and artistry here that certainly sets the film above the ugly effects-work that fills other blockbusters (see Transformers.)

But, oh brother, this story is nonsense! I can't believe critics are willing to elevate this movie to "allegory" based on some terror-references in the dialogue and a Native American-extermination vibe to the story. Pauline Kael would have railed against these "it's not enjoyable trash, it's ART" critics who are attempting to find something deep or profound in a story which is clearly thin as a rail, and hollow as a rotting log.

And my god, it's long!!! A lot of the middle section, with our hero assimilating himself into the native culture, drags. And, as is necessary in all films of this ilk, there's a last-act battle sequence full of loud noises, explosions, James Horner's bombastic score, and plenty of cheer-and-tear-worthy moments that just seems to go on forever.

So, basically, it's a James Cameron film. The visuals are awesome, but aside from that, there's nothing that remotely interests me about this story. I didn't jeer at Cameron's Titanic success -- I thought that was the one occasion in which he married his spectacular technological triumph to a story with some real feeling -- but I have no desire to see this creep anywhere higher than tech categories at the Oscars.

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Postby Greg » Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:59 pm

As part of research for a script I'm writing, I'm lurking at the right-wing political site freerepublic; and, here's a review of Avatar by a poster:

“AVATAR
Get Rid of Human Beings Now!
AVATAR is a visually stunning, but slow, shallow and abhorrent, science fiction adventure pitting evil human capitalists against heroic, spiritually sensitive aliens on the planet Pandora, who worship a false diety and nature. Too graphically intense for children, AVATAR has an abhorrent New Age, pagan, anti-capitalist worldview that promotes goddess worship and the destruction of the human race. “


I though that was pretty amusing.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2410402/posts
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Postby jack » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:01 pm

Okay, I skimed over the below review, but anyone who praises a Michael Bay film should be laughed at and we should all point at him while laughing til he cries.

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Postby Sabin » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:51 pm

Armond White hates it, compares it to a 3D Rapa Nui.


Blue In the Face
James Cameron delivers dumb escapism with his expensive special effects in

'Avatar'
By Armond White
.......
Directed by James Cameron
Runtime: 162 min.

James Cameron’s love of technology is enough to sell Avatar to fans awaiting his first techno-feat since 1997’s Titanic. But will they understand the awful thing he’s done with it? Avatar’s highly-touted special effects depict an army from Earth traveling to Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centuri-A star system, to mine rare ore from under its inhabitants, tall, blue-skinned creatures with tails called the Na’vi. These F/X show Cameron’s ex-Marine hero, Jake Sully (the great everyman Sam Worthington), taking part in a quasi-military program where he enters the alien society via a hybrid body (an avatar) made from human and Na’vi DNA. Cameron’s “fully immersive” 3-D technology is irritating to watch for nearly three hours. And then there’s his underlying purpose: Avatar is the corniest movie ever made about the white man’s need to lose his identity and assuage racial, political, sexual and historical guilt.

Only children—including adult-children—will see Avatar as simply an adventure film; their own love of technology has co-opted their ability to comprehend narrative detail. Cameron offers sci-fi dazzle, yet bungles the good part: the meaning. His undeniably pretty Pandora—a phosphorescent Maxfield Parrish paradise with bird-like lizards, moving plant life and floating mountains—distracts from the inherent contradiction of a reported $300-$500 million Hollywood enterprise that casually berates America’s industrial complex.
Cameron’s superficial B-movie tropes pretend philosophical significance. His story’s rampant imperialism and manifest destiny (Giovanni Ribisi plays the heartless industrialist) recalls Vietnam-era revisionist westerns like Soldier Blue, but it’s essentially a sentimental cartoon with a pacifist, naturalist message. Avatar condemns mankind’s plundering and ruin of a metaphorical planet’s ecology and the aboriginals’ way of life. Cameron fashionably denounces the same economic and military system that make his technological extravaganza possible. It’s like condemning NASA—yet joyriding on the Mars Exploration Rover.

While technically impressive, Avatar’s basically a daft version of the Transformer movies’ sci-fi, techno fantasy. Michael Bay’s extraordinary gift for flashy spectacle found perfect expression in the gargantuan slapstick comedy of technology run amok; his teenage characters’ rapport with cars and machines showed an ambivalent relationship with the things that expedite human activities yet threaten our peace and our history. Avatar, however, invents an alternate world to make the airy-fairy pronouncement: “There’s a network of energy that flows through all living things.” Alien-girl Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) teaches Sully how to bond with a tie-dyed, eagle-like creature by docking his wriggly tail into it. “Feel her!” Neytiri urges, and Cameron emulates the boy-plus-car symbiosis of Transformers—but with pulsing loins, veins and orifices. Better than Titanic’s kitschy romanticism, it is Cameron’s most sensual incident since the husband-wife airlift of True Lies yet, strangely, this sexualized conquest suggests latent fascism in his style.

Bay’s exultant technological thrills climaxed with Transformers 2’s war metaphor, where mankind’s historical continuity was at stake. But Cameron gets sappy and hypocritical. Set in the near future, Avatar is a throwback to the hippie naiveté of Kevin Costner’s production Rapa Nui (directed by Kevin Reynolds). While prattling about man’s threat to environmental harmony, Cameron’s really into the powie-zowie factor: destructive combat and the deployment of technological force. At first, Sully, a “warrior and dreamwalker” like The Matrix’s Neo, is shown as a fierce, sculpted meathead with a wounded look in his wide eyes. Cameron lights Worthington superbly in tremendous, empathetic close-ups, yet when Sully’s involvement with the avatar project increases—as hair and beard grow in—his humanity becomes nondescript and he identifies with the Na’vi. (It’s disappointing that the great Worthington only appears in a quarter of the film; most of the time Sully is a Smurf.) Going native allows Cameron to move on to the violent technology he really loves—though never scrutinizing Sully’s new bond with an angry red dragon or how Sully’s temperament becomes dangerously enflamed.

Here’s the hypocrisy: As Sully helps the beleaguered, virtuous aliens fight back and conquer the human invaders, Avatar puts forth a simple-minded anti-industrial critique. Despite Avatar’s 12-year gestation, Cameron’s obviously commenting on the Iraq War—though not like his hawkish Aliens. Appealing to Iraq War disenchantment, he evokes 9/11 when the military topples the Na’vi’s sacred, towering Tree of Souls. The imagery implies that the World Trade Center was also an altar (of U.S. capitalism), yet this berserk analogy exposes Cameron’s contradictory thinking. It triggers the offensive battle scenes where American soldiers get vengefully decimated—scored to the rousing clichés of Carmina Burana.

The fantasy of Sully giving up the impediment of his (American) humanity is a guilt-ridden 9/11 death wish. References to “fight terror with terror” and “shock-and-awe campaign” don’t belong in this 3-D Rapa Nui with its blather about the Na’vi’s “direct line to their ancestors.” Once again, villainous Americans exhibit no direct communication with ancestors. That’s Cameron’s fanboy zeal turned into fatuous politics. He misrepresents the facts of militarism, capitalism, imperialism—and their comforts.

Cameron’s seditious hero cheapens Neveldine/Taylor’s timely concept in Gamer, where modern characters took responsibility even for their avatars’ misdeeds. Invested in his own techie legend, Cameron never risks Neveldine/Taylor’s honest critique of our technological dependency—which would be to examine national values. Cameron’s deep failing as a pop artist lies in the fact that, unlike the avant-garde Neveldine/Taylor team, he’s a techno-geek who conflates mindless sentimentality with meaning.

Avatar’s going-native F/X fantasy infantilizes Cameron’s technology-infatuated audience; they’ve never read Joseph Conrad on colonialism or feel any compunction about balancing politics and fantasy. There’s even a Busby Berkeley-style tribal dance to divert them. Also, Avatar’s techno-exoticism involves blue cartoon creatures, not brown, black, red, yellow real-world people. It’s the easiest, dumbest escapism imaginable.
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